Gluten Free Digest’s guest appearance on GFree and Happy Show

On Monday, March 24th, Lisa and I were guests on the live podcast “The GFree and Happy Show” hosted by Kathy Nelson. The topic was celiac testing in children and we were asked to join the show to share our story. Thanks again to Kathy for giving us the opportunity to share our experiences with her audience. Hopefully we were able to bring some insight when it comes to dealing with celiac disease in children.

Here’s the show!

How To Keep Your Gluten Free Kids Safe – Gluten Free School Podcast #37

tomlisaciminoRecently we had the honor of being interviewed by our good friend and gluten free advocate Jennifer Fugo-Gresh from Gluten Free School. One of the more frequent questions Jennifer gets from her audience is how to deal with gluten related issues in children. We were very excited to be able to share our experiences with Jennifer and her on-line community at Gluten Free School!

IMG_2693In January of 2012 our oldest daughter Giulia was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 8… the reason why we started this blog. Our goal ever since has been to advocate for celiac awareness. We want to make sure Giulia, and anyone else with gluten related food issues, have the tools to be able to navigate life in a gluten world.

Click Gluten Free School/podcast 37 to listen to the 30 minute podcast. Thanks again to Jennifer for the opportunity to represent the celiac community on her show!

Have You Ever Donated Blood? Will You???

I’m diverting from our typical Celiac / gluten free content to talk about something that… well, frankly is just as important. It’s always out there, but we never pay attention to it until it hits close to home.

We see the commercials on TV asking people to donate blood every day. But how many of us actually pay attention to the cry for help? I had a conversation with Giulia recently after seeing one of these commercials. Her immediate response after seeing the it was “I’m never giving blood… ever!”, clinching her arm as if she had just had a needle in her arm. She’s 10 years old… I would expect her to say that. Fear of the unknown dictates many of the decisions we make in life. I saw a teaching moment here…

We talked about blood type and what type we are. I showed her my blood donor card and talked about how one pint of blood could be used in so many ways. I asked what scared her about it. She said “it will hurt”. Yes… a little in the beginning, but then its fine. I compared it to the several blood tests she’s had related to her Celiac disease,  and how in the beginning her anxiety about it was really high, but now she knows its no big deal. A quick pinch in the beginning and thats it. Giving blood is very similar, it just takes a little longer. Giulia understood, but the concept still wigged her out. Then I explained the fact that donating blood could save a life. Her eyes focused on me… her clinched arm relaxed. I told her she was too young to donate blood right now, but I asked if she would reconsider donating if it was going to help a special person? “What if mommy or daddy needed blood? What if your little sister needed blood? Does that change things a little knowing that you would be helping someone you love?” Changing the perspective a bit seemed to work. The thing is she doesn’t have to make that decision right now. But maybe when the time comes, Giulia will be more inclined to consider the positive impact this could have on someones life.

Here are some quick facts to look at if you’ve ever considered giving blood but were too afraid to:
Blood Donation

If you’re a regular donor… thank you! If you’ve never donated before, why not consider it. You could help save a life, too!  Visit the American Red Cross and the Blood Centers of the Pacific for more information about how you can help. Be a hero…donate!

Gluten Free Emergency Stash… Are You Prepared?

Planning a road trip is easy when you’ll be gone a few days. Clothes, snacks, drinks… the essentials for the ride and the trip. But what if you’re driving an hour to go to work, or a meeting, or just to visit a friend. Do you think about bringing a little something to eat or drink for such a short trip?

Think about that a moment. Think about the roads we drive on every day. Accidents happen, right? Most of the roads we travel on are local thoroughfares with lots of connector roads and places to stop for fuel, food, or a bathroom. But what if you’re traveling on a limited access highway or toll road?

Turnpike pile upI bring this to your attention because an incident happened on a limited access highway yesterday morning just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You may have seen in it on the news… nearly 100 cars and trucks were involved in an accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike due to icy road conditions and sun glare. Thankfully no one was killed but there were nearly 30-40 people injured. Traffic was stopped in both directions for quite some time, but the worst part was the East bound side of the highway where the accident occurred was closed for nearly 9 hours. Traffic was backed up for almost 8 miles behind the accidents, unable to move. 9 hours!

Now, those of you that have been following us for a while know that I am a firefighter by trade for 21 years. Lisa and I started advocating for Celiac awareness after our daughter Giulia was diagnosed with the disease in 2012. I was on duty at my firehouse yesterday morning watching this unfold on TV. I’ve seen my fare share of accidents and gridlock where I work as we have to deal with similar roadways with the NJ Turnpike and Route 295 cutting through our response district.

pa+turnpike+pileup+1+closeAs we continued our normal work activities in the firehouse, the news was on in the background. The media thrives on this kind of stuff so it was on every channel. Three hours into this thing, I sat down with a cup of coffee and realized not much has changed. Gridlock. Emergency responders were still working on the scene, transporting the injured, and assessing the carnage. My stomach grumbled. It was 11:30… almost time for lunch. Lunch! Those poor people stuck in that mess are screwed! This won’t be cleaned up for a while! Just then the news reporters on scene started good-samaritans.jpg?w=830talking about good samaritans bringing bottled water, hamburgers, snacks, and pizza down the embankments from overpasses above. People from the area watching this on TV recognized that people might be hungry and thirsty so they started doing what they could to help. Amazing, right?!?

My thought immediately went to my 10 year old daughter. If we were stuck in this mess and weren’t prepared, Giulia wouldn’t be able to eat any of that. Now, most adults would probably be OK for the duration. Give me a couple of bottles of water and I’m good. God knows I could stand to miss a meal! But I can’t imagine Giulia having the same resolve, nor would I want her to!

My point is this: be prepared. Society tends to get complacent about life in general. The fire service calls it the “It won’t happen to me” syndrome. But inevitably that guy they call Murphy shows up and blows that theory right out of the water.  There’s nothing wrong with thinking ahead and being prepared. You never know. Grab a couple of gluten free granola bars, some water bottles… what ever you like. Call it your “Go Bag”. It might come in handy one day.

… and throw a blanket or two in the back. Glass is designed to break in an accident and summer isn’t for a few more months. Stay safe!

Do you have a plan in place for a gluten free food emergency? Leave your ideas in the reply box below. We’d love to hear from you!

Dr. FAQ: Stefano Guandalini on the Rise of Celiac Disease | SCIENCE LIFE

Great article we wanted to share!  Stefano Guandalini, MD, is the founder and medical director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. He has spent the past 40+ years studying the disease, now estimated to affect 1 percent of Americans, and working toward what he believes will be a cure within the next decade. Read his article here:

Dr. FAQ: Stefano Guandalini on the Rise of Celiac Disease | SCIENCE LIFE.

Can Individuals with Celiac Disease Safely Drink Barley-Based “Gluten-Removed” Beers?


And the controversy continues! Are gluten-removed beers safe? This was a hot topic last year when Omission Beer started advertising their gluten-removed beer as “safe” for consumption by those with Celiac disease and gluten intolerance issues. The jury is still out on that one!

I came across an article that I thought was important to share with you:

“Is Barley-Based “Gluten-Removed” Beer Safe for People with Celiac Disease?” A Special Report by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD of Gluten Free Watchdog with a lot of help from the true experts.

I tried to copy the article in its entirety, but the format wouldn’t work correctly here so I included the link to view the article below. Gluten Free Watchdog did a good job on the article. It gets a little technical towards the end, but it’s written in a way that explains the processes involved in product testing as it relates to gluten identification in beer. While the article clearly states that some of the “experts” provided their opinions on a condition of anonymity, the information provided gives thought evoking testimony that, at the very least, makes the reader reconsider any previous position they may have had on Omission’s advertising. we don’t alienate Omission on the matter, it should be noted that Estrella Damm DAURA and Two Brothers Prairie Path Golden Ale are two other examples of “gluten-removed” beers on the market. All three are being advertised as “crafted to remove gluten.” These beers are brewed with barley but the addition of an enzyme during the brewing process breaks down the gluten molecule. imagesThe enzyme added is a product called Brewers’ Clarex. The additive is used to prevent chill haze, making the beer less cloudy at cold temperatures. But recently the connection between Brewers’ Clarex and breaking down gluten has been discovered. (ref:

So I ask you… what’s your opinion? Do you agree with the “crafted to remove gluten” advertising methods or is it too good to be true? Take a few moments and read this article. It won’t take very long. Educate yourself a bit. Then leave your opinions below… we’d love to hear from you!

Gluten Free Watchdog: Blog – Can Individuals with Celiac Disease Drink Barley-Based “Gluten-Removed” Beers such as Omission? A Gluten Free Watchdog Special Report.


Sweet Freedom Bakery Of Philadelphia Opens Store In Collingswood, New Jersey!

IMG_2019In April, we first wrote about Sweet Freedom’s Bakery located at 1424 South Street in Philadelphia, PA. Sweet Freedom has become our “go-to” bakery for all of our gluten free and dairy free treats. Our first visit to the shop was a special treat for Giulia after a doctor’s visit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for her Celiac disease. We were so impressed with their allergy friendly selections, we started making this a regular detour on our way home from CHoP to get Giulia’s favorite chocolate chip cookie sandwich… and a few other treats as well!

IMG_3009Great news for South Jersey’s gluten free and allergy free community! A new Sweet Freedom Bakery has opened up at 577 Haddon Avenue in Collingswood, New Jersey! Located just West of Collings Avenue, Sweet Freedom is within walking distance of all the well known shops and restaurants of downtown Collingswood. Their signature sign is easily seen from the street, but the pink door is what really stands out! Enter the store and it feels like your walking into the Philly store… literally! The decor, the layout, even the placement of the display dishes are a mirror image of their original store! Its a warm, inviting environment that fits perfectly in the small town feel that Collingswood is known for.

IMG_3006The new shop is a fully functional bakery, like the original shop, so their menu is available in both locations and baked fresh daily. We stopped in a few days ago and were lucky enough to try a Pumpkin Pie cupcake, the last one of a test batch they made. It was amazing! Thats what you get when you walk into Sweet Freedom: AMAZING! Some of our favorites are the Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf, the Fauxstess (their take on a Hostess brand cream filled cupcake), and the  Neapolitan.

Having a 10 year old with Celiac disease is sometimes very difficult. Giulia has become quite an advocate for herself when it comes to dealing with her gluten free lifestyle, but sometimes you can see the disappointment in her eyes when she can’t eat what her friends are eating. Having a place like this where baked goods are safe to eat brings the “normal” back in her life. Here’s a quote from Sweet Freedom’s website that says it all:

Philadelphia is a city known for its soft-pretzels, cheese-steaks and all things chock-full of gluten and dairy. For those of us with food allergies and intolerances, or who are mindful of how our diet impacts our health and wellbeing, it can be difficult to nearly impossible to find a tasty treat for our sensitive systems. Not any longer! Sweet Freedom is here to serve as a safe haven to children and adults alike who have been deprived of the simple pleasure of eating a freshly baked goodie.

So when you’re strolling down Haddon Avenue in Collingswood, or in the area of South and Broad in Philadelphia, stop in and visit our friends at Sweet Freedom Bakery. Grab a cup of coffee and a allergy free treat. You will not be disappointed! To learn more about Sweet Freedom Bakery, or to get directions to either one of their locations, you can visit their website directly. Here is a quick video clip of Allison Lubert, owner of Sweet Freedom Bakery, and Jen Kremer, manager the Philladelphia and Collingswood locations, talking about what they have to offer.